Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
…a bold debut
As Esther Hammerhans prepares her spare room in the London home she once shared with her husband, a knock at the door signals the arrival of a potential tenant. Along with everyone reading the book, Esther is surprised to find a dog waiting on the doorstep. More surprisingly this is a dog who walks on his hind legs, talks and goes by the name, Mr Chartwell.
Meanwhile, Winston Churchill prepares a speech on the eve of his retirement from Parliament at his home, (yes you’ve guessed it) Chartwell. He is also visited bt Mr Chartwell, or Black Pat as he likes to call himself, and as Churchill and Ester’s lives entwine you see the intrusive and devestating effects Black Pat has on those he encounters.
The book could be compared to a fairy story albeit an extremely dark one because Mr Chartwell is the characterization of depression. He physically and mentally intrudes in both Churchill and Esther’s lives and presents himself as a sarcastic, annoying and slightly detestable character.
This is the ‘black dog’ Churchill often referred to as the depression he suffered, and as Hunt weaves the Black Pat into the story she explores the emotions and attitudes that the illness causes.
A far fethched plot some would say and I have to admit that it takes a while to suspend your belief, and get into the story. However, as you become more engrossed in the characters, it all, strangley, starts to make sense making you realise how clever the story is.
Although hard going in places, which is expected from exploring such a difficult subject, keep an open mind though and you will be able to appreciate the creativity and uniquness of Rebecca Hunt’s debut novel.